#Opinion

Beti Ki Shaadi: Why Is That A Burden?

say no to marriage, Parents-daughter relationship
Beti ki shaadi is not as normal as any other marriage. It involves tears, huge exchange of money as dowry, change in name and lifestyle and a lifetime bond with unequal compromises. Though this is not true with every daughter’s marriage in India, it cannot be denied that beti ki shaadi is a burden even today for many families in India.

Why is that so? Why can’t a daughter’s marriage solely be about love and companionship? Why should a daughter’s marriage be a pressure rather than a choice? Why should a daughter’s marital status matter more than her economical status?

Beti ki shaadi a burden because they are seen as a paraya dhan

Just recently, a woman of my acquaintance married her daughter at a very young age. I was shocked not just by the girl’s early marriage but also by the sense of relief in her mother as she got rid of responsibility, a burden so early. The main reason behind this idea of the daughter’s marriage as a burden is of course the deeply rooted belief of paraya dhan. Women in our country are seen as paraya dhan who should be nurtured by her parents only to fit into the tijories and families of her future in-laws.

Perception of the daughter’s marriage as a burden also comes from the idea of dowry, kanyadaan and bidaai. These customs, one of which is a crime prohibited in India years ago, leave no stone unturned to equate women’s individuality as a burden on their families.

But how many times do we question these ideologies?

How it increases the pressure of marriage on women

This perception not only makes marriage an inevitable and harsh reality of a woman’s life but also adds to the pressure that many women face to get married and go to their in-laws’ since their childhood. Many girls are forced to drop out of schools, colleges and jobs just to satisfy the demands of the marriage market and get married as soon as possible. And this further pushes away the index of inequality between men and women and the possibility of women empowerment in the country.

Even though the country is advancing now by initiating discussions on raising the minimum age of marriage of women and increasing representation of women in firms, it cannot be ignored that India is ruled by its culture more than its laws. The ancient texts, beliefs and customs are considered more sacred and dependable than laws and policies that encourage women empowerment. And it is a widely known fact that archaic society was void of women’s agency and choice.

In such cases, how can we ensure that stakeholder’s policies about women empowerment will show practical results?

If a daughter’s marriage is still considered a burden for families, will they choose to get rid of it as soon as possible or wait till they are educated? The former has greater chances to happen because women’s education is still not a preference or priority in our society. Furthermore, this perception amplifies the cases of female infanticide as more and more families would want to stay away from the burden of a daughter’s marriage.

Look on the other side of the coin

Now let’s look at the other side of the coin. If a daughter’s marriage is not perceived as a burden but as a choice that the only woman can make, the situation of the society and the country as a whole will see an improvement. Families will prioritise women’s education and independence and leave the decision of marriage solely on the personal choice of the woman. There will be no difference in the treatment of men and women because, undeniably, the wrong definition of marriage is an important reason for gender biases in our society. So if this side of the coin is better for us, the society and the country as a whole, what is stopping us from flipping the coin?

Views expressed are the author’s own.